A hidden gem in the Jerusalem culinary scene, usually only for those with inside knowledge of the city’s hotspots. Lucky us!
At the Bet Guvrin dig for a day site. What fun!!
Next we plunged into the earliest period of Jewish Jerusalem, and even before. Enter the City of David with us.
From Yad Vashem we took a short trip to Har Herzl, where we visited the Herzl museum, Herzl’s tomb and the Israeli national military cemetery. In a word: inspiring.
This morning we visited the darkest time in our history, which in the midst of our grief reminds us of the importance of maintaining Jewish sovereignty, and where else but in our ancient homeland.
I wandered into the synagogue I never knew existed at Yad Vashem and found something which stopped me in my tracks, and not in a good way. The synagogue contains a series of artifacts taken from synagogues which the Nazis destroyed. Here is a picture of the object which broke my heart: a holy ark with a Hebrew inscription.
When you zoom in you can read the following inscription: אבינו מלכנו פתח שערי שמים לתפתנו
“Our Father, Our King, open the gates of heaven to our prayers”
From the High Holy Day liturgy, this was their prayer, emblazoned on their ark.
Then the Nazis came.
As we left Yad Vashem, we stopped place stones on the memorial to Janusz Korczak, who gave his life to accompany his students to the death camp.
Take a close look at the T-shirts for sale (check the bottom rows as well). If this isn’t freedom of speech epitomized then I don’t know what is.
We celebrated Shabbat morning with our sister congregation in Kibbutz Gezer, called Kehillat Birkat Shalom. Their Rabbi, Miri Gold, asked for a Neth Ami style service, and we all sang together. It was so meaningful, to be with our Reform brothers and sisters on the kibbutz, celebrating Shabbat in the central countryside of Israel, right next to an ancient tel at what used to be a major crossroad. For an extra special surprise Beth Ami members Sheila and Barry Taylor came by. I wish I took a photo ...
Then it was off to lunch at her favorite reastaurant in nearby Ramle (not to be confused with Ramallah). Ramle is another integrated Jewish/Christian/Muslim City in Israel. The restaurant is called Samir’s after the patriarch of the family who founded it. They recently expanded into the shop next door, only to discover the building was of Crusader construction. Wow! Not only that, but the meal was fantastic and generously portioned, and included what may have been the best hummus I ever had.
We began our Shabbat in Jerusalem on a balcony overlooking the Kotel (Western Wall) with some spirited singing - and a Birthright Trip from Miami joined right in with us! Then we went down to the plaza for our own personal Shabbat experiences before heading to the hotel for Shabbat dinner. All in all - a great evening!
(c) copyright 2018 by Rabbi Gary Pokras